Saturday, August 27, 2011

History of Arts & Consciousness, Part Two

At the heart of the artistic effort is the concern to expose and express what it means to be human at its most profound level. Frederick Streng (from the Consciousness and the Arts brochure)

In the early 1980’s the Graduate School for the Study of Human Consciousness offered Master degrees in Religion and Consciousness, Parapsychology, Transpersonal Counseling and Consciousness and the Arts.
The program brochure at that time emphasized the “eternal and transpersonal dimensions of art” and that art (including visual, music, dance, literature, drama etc.) was a “dynamic, transformative activity-not only for the artist but also for the viewer, participant and student of art history.”

Jack Weller was the Chair of the Consciousness and the Arts program and oversaw its development. He later became the founding Director of the Expressive Arts Therapy program at California Institute of Integral Studies and is now retired.

LACMA catalog
In later versions of Charles Miedzinski’s curriculum proposal he focused on visionary and sacred art and this became the foundation of the program offerings. Those courses (for example: Sources of Sacred Art and Symbolism) were the ancestors of classes which we teach today, such as the core requirement Art and Symbolic Process. His background as a scholar of the humanities, art history, spirituality and psychology laid the foundation for how he visualized an academic program that connected art and the sacred. These areas also came together when he served as a consultant for the major exhibition The Spiritual in Modern Art: Abstract Painting 1890-1985 at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The exhibition catalog continues to inspire artists interested in art as a spiritual practice.

In the late 1980’s the program took on the name that we know today - Arts and Consciousness and the brochure description links the transformative capacity of art making to both personal and community transformation - “Art has the power to transform our lives, our culture and our planet.”
(from the Graduate School for the Study of Human Consciousness brochure)

The powerful work of A&C alumni demonstrates how deeply the connections between inner and outer worlds intersect. Whether their creative practice impacts aesthetics, philosophy, healing, health care, education or social issues, A&C alumni reflect what had always been the hope of the founders - that the transformative nature of art was a vital and necessary element of a larger cultural structure.

Next: The creation of the Fiberworks MFA program at JFK University

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